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World-class art in Venice

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Last updated: 07 April, 2024

Venice is best known as a centre of religious art, daubed across small yet stunning Catholic churches and scuole. But there’s also a vibrant contemporary art scene: a slew of good commercial art galleries, the palatial collections of world-class patrons such as Peggy Guggenheim, and the world-famous Venice Biennale.

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  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Renaissance paintings on the walls in exhibition rooms of the Galleria Accademia in Venice

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Accademia Gallery (Venice)

A one-stop-shop of Venetian painting, the Accademia Gallery is to Venice what the Uffizi is to Florence and one of Italy’s foremost repositories of art.

From the glittering Byzantine-style devotional works to Carpaccio’s scenes of Venetian life, complete with lissom gondoliers and little white dogs and Tintoretto’s magnificent portrayal of the Transport of the Body of Saint Mark, it is not only a dazzling collection of masterpieces but also a voyage through the history of Venice itself.

The collection was made possible by Napoleon, who closed many Venetian churches and convents, moving their artworks here not only for storage but also to be used by students for study.

Adult price: £15

Good for age: 18+

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Art in Venice’s Scuole

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Art in Venice’s Scuole

Venice’s scuole (schools) were established from the 13th century by the patrician class, partly as religious and charitable institutions, partly as guilds and confraternities, that had members from all walks of society.

By the 15th century, there were some 400 minor scuole and six more important, powerful ‘Scuole Grandi’ which commissioned the great artists of the day to beautify their headquarters. Carpaccio, for example, decorated San Giorgio agli Schiavoni and Tintoretto San Rocco.

Adult price: £-

Good for age: 18+

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Of all Venice’s many churches, the huge, barn-like Frari is one of the most art-packed. The Franciscans started on the present Gothic church in 1338 and finished in 1469; it boasts the second-highest bell tower in the city and a severe exterior, but once inside, the quality of the art is extraordinary.

The assault begins as you go in when your eyes are drawn immediately to the High Alter and Titian’s vivid, soaring Assumption. Other works by Titian to look out for include his Madonna di Ca’ Pesaro (1519).

The Sacristy contains one of Giovanni Bellini’s greatest paintings, the Madonna and Child with Saints. To the left of the high alter is the fabulous Reniassance tomb of Doge Niccolò Tron (1473) by Antonio Rizzo.

Adult price: £2

Good for age: 18+

Church of Madonna dell’Orto

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Church of Madonna dell’Orto

Experience

Way off-piste in northern Cannaregio, Madonna ‘of the Garden’ (1399-1473) is stuffed with paintings by the great Venetian master who is also buried here along with his son and daughter. A highlight is his beautiful painting of St. Agnes in the Contarini Chapel.

Adult price: £2

Good for age: 18+

Church of Santa Maria della Salute

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Church of Santa Maria della Salute

Experience

Magnificently located at the entrance to the Grand Canal, this vast pale – and unique – church was built in honour of St. Mary of Health in thanks for deliverance from the plague of 1630-31. The best artworks are in the Sacristy, most notably Tintoretto’s Marriage at Cana.

Adult price: £3

Good for age: 18+

Palazzo Grimani

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Palazzo Grimani

Experience

The little-visited Palazzo Grimani is one of the city’s great Renaissance palazzos, now a museum housing an extraordinary collection of classical sculptures, stuccoes, elaborate frescoes and paintings by Hieronymus Bosch.

Adult price: £5

Good for age: 18+

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Peggy Guggenheim Collection

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Peggy Guggenheim Collection

The unfinished, one-storey Palazzo Venier dei Leoni was the home of eccentric American millionairess Peggy Guggenheim and today still houses her extraordinary collection of modern art.

Guggenheim brought her collection of mainly surrealist and modernist works to Venice in 1949 purchasing the charming Grand Canal-side palazzo to house it and herself. She died here in 1979 aged 81.

From Picasso to Pollock, Brancusi to Max Ernst, Guggenheim’s brilliantly unfailing eye picked out the best of the 20th-century avant garde; this collection gives the city a modernist stamp it would otherwise have lacked.

Gazing across the Grand Canal, with the rambling sculpture garden overlooked by the café, there are few more alluring spots in Venice.

Adult price: £12

Good for age: 18+

Pinault Collection

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Pinault Collection

Experience

Japanese superstar architect Tadao Ando was brought in to convert Venice’s 17th-century customs house on the tip of Dorsoduro and 18th-century Palazzo Grassi into stunning exhibition spaces to house French billionaire businessman Francois Pinault’s vast contemporary art collection.

Adult price: £12

Good for age: 18+

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Venice Biennial of Visual Arts

Bucket List Experience

Venice Biennial of Visual Arts

La Biennale transforms Venice annually into a surreal blend of ancient-and-contemporary culture unrivalled anywhere else in the world; it attracts giants of the international art world and vast numbers of visitors. The original Biennale (established in 1895) focused on art and is still held in odd years, but in 1980 an architecture equivalent was added in even years.

The annual bonanza divides into two main sections: individual countries have pavilions in the Giardini (Public Gardens) while artists and architects chosen by a curator exhibit within the magnificent spaces of the old Arsenale. The result is a pop-up museum of painting, installation, sculpture, film, new media and architecture that spreads its tentacles across palaces and churches across the city.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 8 months

When: April-November

Freq: bi-annually

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

  • Venice

Discover the incomparable art and architecture of Venice on a private walking tour with your very own guide. You'll focus on areas of architectural and artistic richness away from the well-trodden pathways and enjoy personalized attention on your private walking tour. Here's proof there's so much more to Venice than St. Mark's Square!

Price €285

Min age 6

Rating 4.04 / 5 [22 ratings]

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  • Venice

Our exclusive (very) small-group walking tour guided by a professional and expert history and cultural guide will give you a comprehensive and pleasant introduction to the art, the history, and the amazing local food & wine scene at once, in a fun informative and tasteful way like no other tour. Should you fell to make your Venetian experience even more complete, add our half hour Gondola Ride for a romantic, special and unexpected views of the city from its founding element, water. Culture is made of art, history, tradition and flavours. These are the real souls of Venice, a unique city like no other. Wander through the cobbled streets and over the bridge of Venice Discover the stunning buildings that make up St. Mark’s Square Sip a traditional venetian spritz Admire the iconic Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal Take a half-hour gondola ride and see the city from a different perspective

Price €109

Min age 0

Rating 4.30 / 5 [13 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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